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Sochi 2014 Olympic Games Opening Ceremony

A crowning achievement of President Vladimir Putin’s Russia kicked off Friday with a celebration of its past greatness and hopes for future glory, most especially for a raucous group of Russian athletes who marched into the rollicking opening ceremony of the Sochi Olympics with a message.

To the best athletes in the world, who they’ve invited to the edge of the Black Sea to compete on ice and snow, they sang: You’re “not gonna get us.”

Just after the sun set over the Caucasus Mountains and along the seashore just outside Fisht Stadium in the wet-paint-fresh Olympic Park, Russian TV star Yana Churikova shouted to a crowd still taking their seats: “Welcome to the center of the universe!”

For the next two weeks, it certainly is for the 3,000 athletes who will compete in 98 events, more people and contests than ever at the Winter Games.

– Associated Press